Abiodun OBA

 

The 36 states in the country have been called upon to step up constitutional actions to be free from the actions and policies of the Federal Government impeding the practice of true federalism in Nigeria.

The Pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere made the call in a statement on Thursday.

The group added that such actions which are impeding the practice of true federalism in Nigeria should be fought against constitutionally.

The decision of has been loudly applauded.

The group said the judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt which held that the Rivers State Government had the powers to collect Value Added Tax generated within its territory enhances true federalism.

In the statement , Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi, commended the Rivers State Government for initiating the legal process and called on other states to explore areas in the Constitution to deepen true federalism in their domains.

The statement was titled, ‘PH Court’s Ruling On VAT Enhances True Federalism, Afenifere Says’.

Afenifere “called on the state governments to use the opportunity provided by these landmark judgments to explore other areas that the Constitution empowers them to assert themselves as federalists. In other words, they should step up actions that will liberate the states from the stronghold of the federal government that has turned Nigeria into a Unitary State – in contradistinction to the federal spirit prescribes by the Constitution.

“They should be assured of Afenifere’s support as they give vent to power devolution and entrenchment of true federalism in Nigeria.

“Areas in which the states need to assert themselves include agriculture, health, education, electricity, physical planning, title registration, registration and production of vehicle number plates and casino licensing etc as Lagos State Government did in the past.”

The Pa Ayo Adebanjo led group also called on FIRS “to resist the temptation to keep appealing the judgment that empowers states to collect local taxes as such a step is another assault on the federal system that we are supposed to be running.”

Securityreporters.com had earlier reported that the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt last month in a judgment in suit number FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, held that the Rivers State Government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory.

Although the Federal Inland Revenue Service applied to the court for a stay of execution, Justice Stephen Pam rejected the application, saying granting it would negate the principle of equity.

Governor Nyesom Wike had assented to the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 in August after it was passed by the state House of Assembly.

Wike, who lamented the injustice in the country, said Rivers State generated N15bn VAT revenue in June this year, but got N4.7bn in return, while Kano generated N2.8bn in the same month and got the same N2.8bn back.

Wike had assented to the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 in August after it was passed by the state House of Assembly.

Some states have since followed with the Lagos State House of Assembly on Thursday passing the Value Added Tax Bill, which Speaker Mudashiru Obasa directed that the Acting Clerk of the House, Olalekan Onafeko, transmit a clean copy of the bill to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for assent.

VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered. It is charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent

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